Formalist Film Theory Essay

Formalist Film Theory Essay-84
In 12 studies I show that normative aspects in patterns of shot durations, shot transitions, shot scale, shot motion, shot luminance, character introduction, and distributions of conversations, music, action shots, and scene transitions reduce to 5 correlated stylistic dimensions of movies and can litigate among theories of movie structure. The basic principle of the Hollywood cinema is that a narrative should consist of a chain . The everyday stories that we tell each other are the reconstruction of our experience in narrative form, and these become the units of remembered life.In general, movie narratives have roughly the same structure as narratives in any other domain—plays, novels, manga, folktales, even oral histories—but with particular runtime constraints, cadences, and constructions that are unique to the medium. Moreover, finely tuned stories are the content of most works in many of our arts—theater, literature, and film; often poetry, art, and dance; and occasionally music.The first is in the minds of the story makers and, after the telling, a second recognizable but condensed fabula is in the minds of story consumers. is the dramaturgy of the fiction film, the organized set of cues prompting us to infer and assemble story information.” Again, what is constructed in the mind of the spectator is not at issue here; it will vary with every story and a bit with every individual.

In 12 studies I show that normative aspects in patterns of shot durations, shot transitions, shot scale, shot motion, shot luminance, character introduction, and distributions of conversations, music, action shots, and scene transitions reduce to 5 correlated stylistic dimensions of movies and can litigate among theories of movie structure. The basic principle of the Hollywood cinema is that a narrative should consist of a chain . The everyday stories that we tell each other are the reconstruction of our experience in narrative form, and these become the units of remembered life.In general, movie narratives have roughly the same structure as narratives in any other domain—plays, novels, manga, folktales, even oral histories—but with particular runtime constraints, cadences, and constructions that are unique to the medium. Moreover, finely tuned stories are the content of most works in many of our arts—theater, literature, and film; often poetry, art, and dance; and occasionally music.The first is in the minds of the story makers and, after the telling, a second recognizable but condensed fabula is in the minds of story consumers. is the dramaturgy of the fiction film, the organized set of cues prompting us to infer and assemble story information.” Again, what is constructed in the mind of the spectator is not at issue here; it will vary with every story and a bit with every individual.

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Those aspects of particular interest here are the first five: editing (shot durations in Study 1, shot transitions in Study 2, the distribution of action shots in Study 9, and of scene transitions in Study 10); staging (motion in Study 3 and character introduction in Study 7); lighting (brightness in Study 4); sound (music in Study 5 and conversations in Study 8); and framing (shot scale in Study 6).) suggested in the opening epigram, movies shouldn’t be looked down upon.

As a story form they can be fine art, emotionally absorbing, thought provoking, educational, and entertaining, all at once (see also Brewer & Lichtenstein, , meaning a shape or mold. A whole is that which has a beginning, middle and end.

Narrative formulae are theories that describe the narrative states (in the fabula) that drive the sequential arrangement and presentational style of the events in the syuzhet. The beginning supposes nothing wanting before itself; and requires something after it; the middle supposes something that went before, and requires something to follow after; the end requires nothing after itself, but supposes something that goes before. 67-68)The craft of telling stories, arranging the syuzhet so that it is maximally effective, is probably as old as our species.

The overriding question becomes: Is there consistency in the sequential structure of the syuzhet in popular English-language movies? Indeed, its emergence could be used as a defining moment for our speciation from our less human forebears (Boyd, ).

Yet the syuzhet is not necessarily ordinal in its temporal presentation of the story. The syuzhet (the narration) has cues and prompts that are presented in a particular film style, the filmmakers’ choices of cinematic devices.

Flashbacks, flashes forward, and parallel action (where two or more narrative threads are interleaved) are common in film and literature. Film style concerns all aspects of the craft of filmmaking—editing, staging, lighting, sound, framing, focus, color, and more.

Perhaps realizing this, several theorists have renamed and reshaped Freytag’s scheme (now with two flat wings and two oblique lines) into seven parts, with four larger elements and three turning points at their junctures (see Orr, where unresolved issues are cleared up.

Of course, given that the fabula and the syuzhet are concepts from the early 20th century, neither Aristotle nor Freytag could admit of such a distinction.

But given that Freytag’s analysis of acts is about narrative states, it seems most appropriate to think of them as divisions of a generalized fabula. One is that there will be a pause in the action—curtain down, perhaps a bathroom break, and in earlier times, a smoke and a drink in the lobby.

Such breaks rarely happen in the popular movies of the West, except most glaringly in the long epics of the 1960s and 1970s (e.g., ), when there was an intermission about three-fifths through the movie.

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